An Open Letter to Allies

In the words of the great Rihanna, “SOS,” the LGBTQ+ community needs your help! The United States Senate has recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, putting marriage equality in jeopardy.

Within the past few weeks I have heard a lot of fear coming out of the LGBTQ+ community about losing the right to marry, and thought to myself, “what now, can’t this community just get a freakin’ break?” Well apparently, they cannot, and quite frankly, we should all be afraid.

From Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1996 until Barrack Obama’s presidency in 2009, the Defense of Marriage Act stood strong, denying same-sex couples federal recognition, which also denies crucial benefits that different-sex couples receive. These couples could not receive military benefits, could not receive tax benefits, could not receive hospital visitation rights, could not have healthcare benefits, and finally, could not get social security benefits. And, yes, I realize that is a lot of “could nots,” that is the issue.

In 2015, the community finally received a break, now proven to be a short break. The landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal in all states.

It only takes three conservative Justices to make people genuinely concerned that they will lose the right to marry the love of their life. To put that into perspective that is three people making decisions for a community of approximately nine million American citizens.

According to Kate Sosin with USA Today, the fear starts with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. They have already said that they believe Obergefell v. Hodges should be overturned and the decision of same-sex marriage should be left to state governments. They say that making same-sex marriage legal restricts religious freedom, and yes, I know how silly that sounds. If religious adherents do not like same-sex marriage the answer is simple, don’t marry someone of the same gender. Seems simple enough a fix to me, but apparently not everyone feels this way.

Now Sosin discusses adding Barrett to the equation. To put it bluntly, Amy Coney Barrett is a homophobe. Have you ever heard of the Alliance Defending Freedom? Well if you haven’t it is an LGBTQ+ hate group. Do you know who gave a lecture at one of their rallies? Barrett! She has also stated her anti-LGBTQ+ views, by saying she does not believe in allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender that they identify as. She even went as far as referring to trans women as men.

Now you take the two conservative justices who already want to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, and then take another conservative justice who is clearly homophobic. You then get fear across the entire LGBTQ+ community.

And not only should the LGBTQ+ community be scared, we all should be, she is clearly a hateful person who is now in charge of all of our rights.

Let’s take a turn to the hypothetical scenario that Obergefell v. Hodges were to be overturned. Not only would the LGBTQ+ community be affected, the entire country would be because same-sex marriage actually has positive impacts on the country.

First, according to Murray Lipp with the Huffington Post, marriage equality promotes non-discriminatory values because we are not putting one group of people above another. Imagine all of the people who are just figuring out who they are, trying to find their true selves, being told that their love is wrong. They then go into depression and lose hope because they now have to hide what they are feeling. Because of this, marriage equality also fosters psychological, physical, and social wellbeing.

Second, there would be a HUGE economic his to the marriage industry because they’d lose a portion of their income. This includes wedding planners, venue owners, bakers, and many many more.

Third, Lipp explains, and this one is a lot for some people to take in, it promotes TRUE religious freedom. I mean think about it, the constitution specifically states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Also, America is a melting pot of religions. So, how can we follow certain religions and deny rights based on what they say? Isn’t this going against everything that the first amendment stands for?

Fourth, if Obergefell v. Hodges were to be overturned, we risk our international reputation with the FIFTEEN countries who made same-sex marriage legal before the United States of America.

Fifth, and the most compelling for me, the adoption industry would take the biggest hit. According to Lifelong Adoptions, couples have to be in a legally recognized relationship to adopt a child, meaning that if Oberfefell v. Hodges was overturned, same-sex couples would not be able to adopt. This is scary because same-sex couples are FOUR TIMES more likely to adopt a child than different-sex couples. Actually, there are sixteen thousand adopted children living with same-sex couples in California alone. An estimated two million LGBTQ+ members are interested in adoption. How many children go unadopted if those people are not allowed to adopt a child?

These are only five benefits of marriage equality, but I guarantee if you search for more, you will find a plethora. So my question is when you look at these five examples of how same-sex marriage benefits our country, why would anyone question overturning Obergefell v. Hodges? Especially over bogus claims that it restricts religious freedom. I mean look at how it effects the adoption agency alone. Are we really going to allow our government to deny possibly millions of children a loving family?

Before doing anything for a minority group, you first need to educate yourself about the community, and since you are here you are on the right track! Others ways to educate yourself include watching documentaries, reading reputable articles and books, and simply talking to a member.

When doing an interview with two of my friends, conveniently named Emily and Emilee, I received some great options for how to get involved and help. The easiest of these options: support a member emotionally. Those of us on the outside of the community do not understand the emotional toll that this uncertainty plays on their mental health. Also, those of us who are able can use your voice and uplift the community to spread the word about the inequalities. Other options include signing petitions, attending protests, and voting.

So, allies, how will you help? Standing idly by is no longer an option; inequality is no longer an option.

In the great words of Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Use your stone to create a ripple of change for the LGBTQ+ community.

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